The Proud Narcissism of the Sad Song

December 21, 2015

Were you worried your joy was too overwhelming? Your happiness too rampant? Your love life too successful? Were you concerned your constant satisfaction with life would conflict with your ability to cry? Worry no more: Adele has come to deliver us from our misguided bliss. And while years ago the public may have believed such success from somber ballads was unlikely, today, society revels in Adele’s saddest tunes, happy to drown in their own tears for the sake of a heart‐wrenching song. But where does this obsession with wallowing come from? Why are people so happy to be sad?

When I first saw the attention Adele’s new song “Hello” was getting, I thought nothing of it except that everyone was happy to have such relatable heartbreak infiltrating pop culture. Then, pictures of tear‐stained pillows began flooding news‐feeds. People’s tweets bravely declared that Adele made them feel as though they had just endured the world’s most devastating breakup. Buzzfeed quizzes like “Which Adele Song Should You Sob To Tonight?” began cropping up. Perhaps relatability has played a role in “Hello” topping musical charts, but these social media reactions suggest far more than just a sense of camaraderie with the vocal powerhouse.

While it’s great to see Adele doing so well, the fact that people are so ready to display their devastation online these days is somewhat shocking. People’s eagerness to depict themselves as the most distraught or the most depressed makes a mockery of real depression. These tweets and quizzes, which so hurriedly rush to label people as sad for what seems to be purely comedic reasons, ridicule the emotions of the singer herself. In our race to determine who finds “Someone Like You” or “Hello” the most relatable, we have made the “sad song” yet another commodity of social media narcissism. Call me a skeptic, but I am willing to bet that few people have actually shed unstoppable tears to Adele’s music. This desperation to be the depressed underdog songs of their actual emotional value.


By: Izzy McCarthy

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